Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

Always Check That Bird

IMG_3659Because the assumption “pigeon” may usually be correct, but it isn’t always. Something about that silhouette…Falco peregrinusPeregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).Falco peregrinusAt the top of 1st Avenue. You may remember that on January 1st, I found a pair of Ravens (Corvus corax) courting near here. Lately, four Ravens have been seen in the area, so presumably the nest-building seen in March led to good things, the first Ravens born in Brooklyn in… forever? Traditionally a species of highlands, Ravens are now adapting to urbanity. (I’m still hunting for a picture of the family.) But on that first day of the year, I also saw a Peregrine, streaking down 39th St. Good continuity. The Peregrine is traditionally also a bird of highlands, nesting on cliff faces, but following their reintroduction have taken surprisingly well to the canyons of cities.

A Great Wall

wallSunset Park is buttressed by a rough stone retaining wall that has become the home of numerous lifeforms. Above is the southwest-facing flank. wallNEHere’s the northeast wall, along 41st St. That’s where all the following were found:LichenThe presence of lichen, which doesn’t tolerate pollution, means the air here is relatively good. Indeed, elevated near the top of the Harbor Hill Moraine, the park catches the harbor breezes very nicely.Sagina subulataThere are numerous clumps of Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata), which isn’t a moss but rather a flowering plant.fernHaven’t yet figured out which fern this is. A spleenwort perhaps? Parthenocissus quinquefoliaVirginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).Halysidota larrisiiThe caterpillar of the Sycamore Tussock Moth (Halysidota larrisii). Wikipedia says these can cause hives; this Auburn entomology page says nix to that, while listing other “stinging” caterpillars.’

“Stone wall, Sunset Park ……… $50,000″ from the May 10, 1906, edition of The City Record. Would love to know where these stones came from.

Sumer is icumen in

Sphecius speciosusI’ve heard a few Dog Day Cicadas (Tibicen) recently, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and here in Cobble Hill, but it’s still early. In anticipation, the Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) have begun to emerge. Males are generally seen first; they’re out to claim nesting territory.

I saw my first CKW of the summer on Tuesday. I assumed it was male since it looked so small. Wednesday before the monsoon I saw one in the same place. It really favors this wheel. If you look closely at the rear leg below, there seem to be spurs there at the joint, evidently a characteristic of females. Also, this view nicely shows the two pairs of wings, a defining characteristic of the Hymenoptera.

While scary to some people because of their size, these digger wasps are quite harmless to people.

Everywhere You Look

HisteridaeFound in the salad spinner after washing some organic lettuce. A Histeridae family beetle, also known as hisser or clown beetles, even though they don’t wear much makeup. They eat the larvae of flies.OpuntiaA late-blooming Prickly Pear (Opuntia), one of my favorite local flowers. Speyeria cybeleA very beat-up Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), a new species for me. They’re rare in the city; this was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and seemed to be flying pretty well, considering.Malaclemys terrapinDiamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) also at JBWR.Malaclemys terrapinOur only brackish water turtle. Only the females come to land, to lay their eggs. This one was heading back to the bay, so presumably she had spent the night digging a nest. Considering most of the JBWR nests are plundered by Raccoons (introduced by the highway), best wishes to her. MutillidaeI thought at first this was a large, fast-moving ant, but it’s actually a Red Velvet Ant of the Mutillidae family. Pardon the common name, these are actually wasps and are supposed to have a fierce sting, leading to their alternate name of, head’s up, people, “Cow Killer.” (This is why we have a telephoto lens.) Females are wingless; the winged males look a little more waspy. The larvae are ectoparasites on other wasps, including Cicada Killer Wasps.

Some Recent Sightings

Hirundo rusticaBarn Swallow (Hirundo rustica): this is a Brooklyn bird, but this is a cosmopolitan species; Eurasian specimens, which I saw most days recently in the UK, have generally longer tails and brighter colors.leafcutterThe clean work of a leaf-cutter bee on Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), one of their favorite plants. If you’re a gardener, you should be proud to be hosting these bees, who line their nests with plant fragments. MegachilidaeHere’s one of these Megachilidae family bees on that pollinator-magnet Milkweed (Asclepias). Note that hairy underside of the abdomen: they gather pollen here. OrthopteraA young (early instar) grasshopper, and a much more ragged edge of leaf-munching. The short antennae are a quick distinguishing mark from their Orthoptera cousins, the katydids.katydidThese antenna are more than twice the length of this katydid’s body. Sterna hirundoA Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), a NYC harbor nester, fishing from the pier.

Mallards

Anas platyrhynchosTwo families of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were spotted at Brooklyn Bridge Park the other day. Here’s an attentive mommy and one of her half a dozen cautious-reckless youngsters.Anas platyrhynchos

Gowanus Twilight

Albizia julibrissinAnas platyrhynchosIMG_3486

Yesterday afternoon, I walked over the canal and was surprised by a pair of Kestels cavorting in the air, then two more, flying about. I didn’t have my real camera, so for our post-prandial constitutional we walked down into the valley to see if we could catch the family again. I’d spotted the nest earlier, in a rotten cornice, as is usual here in the city, but at sunset there was no sign of them. Still, there were compensations: these things, and Swifts, and then, nearing home, the fireflies.


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